We told you about ReservationHop, the highly questionable startup that wants to buy and sell hard-to-get reservations from people, and profit from this enterprise, as some misguided favor to restaurants. Also, last week brought the revelation that Coi in North Beach is going to become one of the first restaurants in the country to adopt a variable-priced ticket system for its prix fixe meals, with prices varying by demand. Well, now the general manager at Stones Throw in Russian Hill, Ryan Cole, has submitted an open letter on the topic that's been published on SFGate, and we excerpt it for you here.

With the introduction of the most recent hot-topic item — selling prime-time reservations — I feel sick to my stomach to think that restaurants of such high pedigree and prestige would agree to participate in something so fundamentally against the principles of hospitality. Allowing a person to pay for a reservation not only changes the expectations of that guest, but also sends a message saying if you have more money or means, we would prefer you dine at our restaurant. It sucks the excitement and enjoyment of dining at these top-notch restaurants right out from underneath the guest.

Proponents of these types of systems may argue that it lessens the chance of a no-show (the restaurant world’s financial nemesis), but in all reality, prime-time reservation slots [all] most likely to show up. Furthermore, most of the restaurants that have the ability to participate in these programs can fill these slots very easily should a rare no-show occur.

Others compare selling reservations to holding back some reservations for VIPs, friends, repeat guests, etc. Yes, every restaurant holds back tables to accommodate the aforementioned, but do they charge their VIPs, friends and regular guests a premium? The ultimate result is the restaurants and reservation companies are padding their pockets at the expense of providing an egalitarian experience for anyone who chooses to come and dine at their restaurant.

One person tried to liken this new pay-for-reservation model to the restaurant business catching up with the hotel and airline industries, which charge more for higher-demand times. While I respect that approach, with hotels and airlines, your payment is upfront and for a specified service. You have a place to stay, or a ride from point A to B. If demand is higher, so might be the price.

Within the restaurant world, it is simply paying for access to spend your money. It is basically taking the old practice of slipping the doorman a $100 bill and skipping the wait for your table, but blatantly publicizing to the world that you can pay upfront, and reservation guidelines no longer apply. Is $25 or $30 in the pocket of the restaurant worth satisfying one guest’s needs to shun 50 others?

Read the rest here, and chime in in the comments if you feel passionately one way or the other.

[Inside Scoop]